Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Bridging the JAP: Funny Jewish Women and the Reframing of Jewish Femininity in American Pop Culture

Undergraduate Project

Project Information


Dr. Samantha Pickette, Assistant Director Brandeis University Hillel, is converting her doctoral thesis focused on representations of Jewish women in pop culture into a book manuscript. Her work explores the 1970s as a critical turning point for the representation of young Jewish women in American popular culture, specifically considering examples from popular literature, popular film, television, and comedy that undermine the validity of midcentury conceptions of Jewish women as JAPs and Ugly Ducklings. The book will use case studies that demonstrate the major methods (confessional storytelling modes, direct parody, schlemielization, star power, etc. etc.) through which Jewish female writers, comedians, actors, etc. shifted the paradigm of Jewish femininity away from the JAP and towards something more nuanced and complex that has continued to shape the way that Jewish women represent themselves.

Dr. Pickette requires an intern to assist in the research and information gathering of the case studies in the book, and in the compilation of the material into an annotated bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources.

Profile of Appropriate Candidate

  • Knowledge of American Jewish history/literature/film, and patterns of Jewish representation along gender lines

  • Strong interdisciplinary research skills, including library and internet research experience and media literacy

  • Strong critical reading skills

  • Lucid writing skills

  • Ability to meet deadlines and complete assignments independently